I’m involved in two cases in California with this person. We are suing each other. I sued first in my county and then later received a separate lawsuit from another county. The person who sued me later on had written discovery sent to me addressed to the wrong court with the wrong filing date. I asked the person’s attorney if they were sending it for the case where I sued them in my county, because that’s the court they addressed the discovery to and their response that it was for their lawsuit. I responded, because I didn’t want a Motion to Compel showing that I didn’t answer anything. With every response I stated that I was unclear which court it was for and answered for what could be answered in either of our cases and objected to responses that did not relate to both cases. Some of their questions that they claim are for their case look more like they are trying to obtain information where I sued them by going outside the limit of interrogatories for that case so they added it to their case.
They used the wrong court and filing date on the Admissions, Production, and Interrogatories. Is it even valid written discovery that they sent since it was addressed to the wrong court (wrong county) with an inaccurate filing date, and can they be required to resend the discovery addressed to the correct court and with the correct filing date, or can their written discovery be ruled to be invalid? I don’t see how they can win a Motion to Compel when I actually answered some of the questions that could be applied to both cases. The only thing that shows they were using this for their lawsuit against me is the name of the judge and case number.
Are these cases related? If so, it may make sense to consolidate the cases so that you avoid these confusing situations. Discovery is very broad. A party is allowed to request discovery on almost anything that may lead to admissible evidence, even if the requested information is not itself admissible. You are required to provide the information unless it falls into an exception or the request itself violates discovery rules. If a party is able to discover information on one lawsuit against you, he can generally use that same discovery in another lawsuit (even though it may not be admissible at trial). It’s difficult to know whether the other party’s attorney is attempting to get around limits set by the judge in one of the cases, or if the discovery requests just have clerical errors. During a motion to compel, you may be able to use the defense that the discovery requests had incorrect filing dates and you were confused as to what case they were referring to, but the judge is likely going to order the other party to clarify what case they are requesting discovery for and order you to respond.
If you are representing yourself, a better strategy would be to contact your courts and ask for clarification of the discovery rules regarding what you must disclose and what you can withhold. The court can probably provide you with general rules, and may be able to point you toward any specific orders regarding your cases. You can also contact the opposing counsel and request that he or she clarify the requests and the cases they relate to. The court may be willing to have a telephone conference with you and the other attorney to clarify specific requests. Even if the other side still files a motion to compel, you would be able to show that you have been making a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of discovery.
An even better strategy would be to retain an attorney with civil litigation experience if you don’t already have one. Although it may cost some money, it could substantially increase your chances of having a positive outcome, as well as reduce confusion and stress. Your attorney would be able to easily advise which discovery requests are valid and which ones are not. If the other side really is messing around with discovery, you may be able to request that your attorney’s fees related to discovery be paid by the other side.